Arrowheads of Senate President Godswill Akpabio’s campaign group are squaring up for the Senate Leader position.
The National Assembly is resuming tomorrow to commence full legislative business and one of the things to be done by the Senate President is the announcement of the principal officers.
These are: Senate Leader, Deputy Leader, Senate Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip.
There were also Senate Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Chief Whip and Deputy Minority Chief Whip.
The positions are not contested for on the floor of the Senate. The occupants are fixed after consultations between the Senate Leadership and leaders of the ruling party and the minority parties.
Yesterday, Senators Ali Ndume (Borno South) and Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) are in the race for Senate Leader. Both of them confirmed their interest yesterday.
Ndume said: “I’m interested but I am not desperate to be the Senate Leader. I will leave everything to God.”
Bamidele said: “Very true, I am vying for the office with Sen. Ndume.”
The battle is more intense for the minority leader where the G-5 group led by former Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike is up to stop former Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal.
Unlike the majority All Progressives Congress (APC) with 59 senators, the minority is split into six political parties – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with 36, Labour Party (LP) with nine, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) with two, Social Democratic Party (SDP) two, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) one and Young Peoples Party (YPP).
While Ndume, who is a former Senate Leader, and a friend of Vice President Kashim Shettima, was mandated by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to lead the Akpabio campaign. Bamidele is a die-hard loyalist of the President.
The scenario has put the President of the Senate, His Excellency Godswill Akpabio in dilemma.
In the opposition camp, five Senators have been speculated as likely to be the Minority leader.
They are: Tambuwal (Sokoto South), a former Speaker of the House of Reps, ex-Kebbi State Governor and former FCT Minister Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central), former Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North), Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (from Cross River North) and Mwadkwon Simon Davou (Plateau North)
The PDP caucus was split into two camps with the former Presidential Candidate of the party, Alh. Atiku Abubakar and the G-5 governors, led by ex-Governor Nyesom Wike renewing their rivalry.
The PDP caucus alleged that the G-5 group has become an annex of the APC.
The Atiku group also claimed that the G-5 cannot produce the Minority Leader in the Senate and in the House of Representatives.
Although the G-5 prefers Jarigbe, its plan B is Davou to break the yoke of agitation from the North.
Investigation revealed that the tight race for the Senate Leader may lead the upper chamber to change its tradition.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “ Ndume was the DG of Akpabio’s campaign and Bamidele coordinated all covert strategies which made Akpabio to win. The situation has created a dilemma for the President of the Senate.”
Another source said the intrigues may make the Senate to dump its tradition.
The source added:” It has been an unwritten tradition that the DG of the campaign of a President of the Senate will be the Senate Leader.
“During David Mark’s tenure, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba was the DG of his campaign and he became the Senate Leader. Ndume was the DG of Saraki’s camp and he became the Senate Leader in 2015 and when Sen. Yahaya led the campaign of Ahmad Lawan, he was chosen as the Senate Leader.
“ The indices are changing because Sen. Bamidele is a strong contender for Senate Leader as a” godson” of the President. The adoption of campaign DG as a Senate Leader is not in our Standing Rules. “
In the opposition PDP, Atiku’s camp and the G5 group have been at each other’s throats.
Another Senator said: “The G5 leaders have drawn the battle line with Atiku’s camp to stop Tambuwal from emerging as the Minority Leader.”